Mental health day push

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Kate Pritchard, Ned McVicar, Robert Milich, Olivia Vlahakis, Dale Pye and Max Buchhloz.

By Allanah Sciberras

A Bill proposed by six young people from Hobsons Bay calling for the introduction of mental health days in the state’s secondary schools successfully passed in Victoria’s Youth Parliament last week.

Young participants from the Hobsons Bay area have pushed for senior secondary school students to have the opportunity to take up to four days off a year to focus on their mental health.

The students behind the Bill were Kate Pritchard, Max Buchhloz, Dale Pye, Robert Milich, Ned McVicar and Olivia Vlahakis. Miss Pritchard, a year 12 student, believes the Bill will improve the schooling experiences for many young Victorians.

“The stigma around mental health is damaging, and it’s not going away anytime soon … it’s okay not to be okay and this Bill would help the people that would need it the most,” Kate Pritchard said. “This next step needs to be in the education system.”

The team has a first-hand understanding of the pressure VCE has on young people and hope their Bill will benefit wellbeing and studies.

“There needs to be a new avenue for these students … we need to stop punishing young students over something they can’t change,” Miss Vlahakis said. “Four days would have been a [great help] help to me in school.”

YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament is a program designed to give young Victorians between the ages of 16-25 a chance to be heard at the highest levels of state government on a wide range of issues relevant to young people’s lives. To date, over 30 Youth Parliament Bills have gone onto become Victorian legislation.

The Bill was passed with amendments and will now be considered by the relevant Victorian government minister.

By Allanah Sciberras, a member of the YMCA Youth Press Gallery. 

This article originally appeared on the Maribyrnong & Hobsons Bay Star Weekly, July 9, 2019.

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